David Pogue’s Primer For The Planet

For years, every climate change story has mentioned “the greenhouse effect”: how radiation from the atmosphere super-heats the earth’s surface.

But how many Americans have actually been in a greenhouse to understand the analogy?

How about this: “the dog-in-the-car effect.” Everyone knows exactly what happens when you leave Fluffy inside, even for a minute.

David Pogue has many talents. One is the ability to explain abstract concepts like climate change in ways everyone on, well, the planet can understand.

Many Westporters know Pogue as our neighbor — the clever, talented host of Westport Library variety shows.

David Pogue, in a Westport Library promotion. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

The rest of the country knows him as a tech guru (New York Times, Yahoo, “Missing Manual” books); “CBS Sunday Morning” science and tech correspondent and PBS “NOVA” star. I’m missing a lot, but you get the idea.

Pogue writes books the way you or I write emails. He’s lost count of the number — 50 or so (130, including updates). They range from self-help to life hacks; he’s even written novels (because, David Pogue).

But his most recent work is different. “How to Prepare for Climate Change; A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos” is special.

It’s one thing for Pogue to explain how to get more out of our iPhone cameras.

It’s a bit more important to tell us how we can all live to see the rollout of iPhone 20.

Simon & Schuster explains “How to Prepare” this way:

You might not realize it, but we’re already living through the beginnings of climate chaos. In Arizona, laborers now start their day at 3 a.m. because it’s too hot to work past noon. Chinese investors are snapping up real estate in Canada. Millennials have evacuation plans. Moguls are building bunkers. Retirees in Miami are moving inland.

Pogue walks readers through what to grow, what to eat, how to build, how to insure, where to invest, how to prepare your children and pets, and even where to consider relocating when the time comes.

He also provides wise tips for managing your anxiety, as well as action plans for riding out every climate catastrophe, from superstorms and wildfires to ticks and epidemics.

Yes, ticks. Shorter, warmer winters do not kill them off. The result: more Lyme disease than ever. Pogue does not miss anything.

“How to Prepare for Climate Change” does two things simultaneously. Pogue wags his finger sharply — warning, for example, that oceans will take decades to cool down, even if we enact changes today —  while also throwing a life buoy as we drown.

(FUN FACT: Seven of the 10 most flooded states are not on a coast. Damage comes from rain, swollen rivers, and broken dams.)

Sure, governments can build seawalls. But what can we as individuals do? His advice — on reinforcing our homes, choosing where we live, suggesting how to talk to our kids — makes sense, in an often-senseless world.

Why should we listen to Pogue, who is many things but not an expert on climate science, agriculture, investments, or any other topic he discusses?

He’s simply distilling the advice of 55 experts into plain, understandable English. That’s one of his gifts: helping us make the leap from a dog in a hot car, to all living things on a hot planet.

We’re all in danger. But — this being “06880,” and Pogue being a Westporter — I asked: “What about here?”

“We’re in the line of fire for hurricanes and sea level rise,” he says. “By 2050, we’ll have lost a lot of coastline.” (NOTE: That sounds far away. But it’s nearer to us now than 1990.)

We’ve already seen the effects of extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Isaias. (They were not even hurricanes!) His section on flood insurance is, well, priceless.

Will the right people read this? A Yale study showed that 37% of Americans believe that climate change is not caused by humans, but rather part of a natural cycle.

Of course, Pogue says, “It doesn’t matter what you think. You still need to get ready for hurricanes, floods and wildfires. And ticks.”

Which means every American needs to read “How to Prepare for Climate Change: A Practical Guide to Surviving the Chaos.”

(PS: When I said that Pogue books as easily as the rest of us write emails, I was not kidding. His climate change book was only one of 3 published on the same day last week. The other 2 — “Mac Unlocked” and “iPhone Unlocked” — are guides to the Big Sur and iOS 14 operating systems, respectively. Even for David Pogue, that’s impressive.)

David Pogue puts complex concepts into plain language. As a “NOVA” host, he stood behind a periodic table “table.”

7 responses to “David Pogue’s Primer For The Planet

  1. In the CBS Sunday Morning report about his book, he identified the single best place to live if you want to endure climate change: Madison, Wisconsin.

  2. Yes but can he explain why waterfront property is so crazy expensive if this is true?

    • That’s changing, Brad! One study shows that a Miami waterfront home now sells for 14% less than the identical home on higher ground. It takes time for the public to catch up to the realities of the changing climate…but it’s happening!

  3. David is such a wonderful citizen he certainly
    Deserves our support. And he writes well also!

  4. Ernie Lorimer

    For the second edition, it would be worthwhile adding reference to the Connecticut Ice Storm clause in homeowner’s policies. Plenty of folks in Texas are going to be educated about it. Basically, turn off the water if you are going to be out of the house more than 3 days, or insurance won’t cover water damage.

  5. Brian Strong

    Here is a tip to save money and be more comfortable in, say, Madison….
    Your clothes dryer is blowing out moist warm air – just the kind you want in Winter in your home. Simply move the duct tube to blow inside in Winter and stuff a towel to block the hole in the wall. You can add some old pantyhose to prevent any fluff from exiting the tube. In Spring, reverse.
    (This tip may be in the second edition).